LIMA — Mother Nature proved perfect for two Earth Day events in Lima on Saturday, a cleanup and an educational celebration. The weather was warm and sunny throughout the day.
On Saturday morning, roughly 250 volunteers walked along the Ottawa River to clean up trash, as individuals and those representing local organizations and businesses.
Summer Slusher, 16, and an Elida High School sophomore, donned gloves and a garbage bag to receive extra credit for her biology class. A family friend, Jenna Beougher, joined her because Summer is a minor.
They traveled along Fort Amanda Road, near Shawnee Road collecting trash, but Beougher saw a theme.
“It’s a lot of fast-food from those restaurants right there,” said Beougher, 25, of Wapakoneta. She pointed to the nearby Taco Bell and McDonald's.
They only traveled about 200 yards before each of them filled their first garbage bags.
Down the road, across from PotashCorp, more than 10 employees and family members cleaned up near the chemical plant.
Joe Bianco, a Safety Health Environment Manager with PotashCorp, said he’s been volunteering for the cleanup for more than a decade.
“The first year we did it, you couldn’t walk 20 yards without filling a bag,” he said.
It’s improved a lot since then, he said, taking the group roughly an hour to clean the area near the plant.
There were also a few local Boy Scout troops that assisted in cleanup efforts. For 14-year-old David Hirschfeld, of Shawnee Township, it was the second year he’s helped out, representing Boy Scout Troop 777.
“I do think it makes a difference, not just for us, but for the community as well,” he said.
David and his troop picked up papers, glass and tires during their trek.
Connie Miller said the Ottawa River Cleanup has been an annual event since 1993, before the Lima Riverwalk was even developed. She’s proud of the children and adults who come to volunteer every year.
“Those kids are taking ownership of their community and taking care of the environment,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, down the road at Faurot Park, various organizations showed other ways to reduce impact and foster sustainability. Live music blared, while visitors sipped on fresh vegetable soup and enjoyed all-natural ice cream.
“We are attempting to try to encourage individual action,” said Rae Neal, event coordinator of Earth Day Awareness Lima. “It’s education, encouragement and awareness.”
A big focus this year was on local foods and community gardening, Neal said. The West Ohio Food Bank set up a booth, showcasing its programs. Activate Allen County is also launching a mobile produce program this year.
“We wanted people to have access to whole foods, but they need to know how to use them,” Neal said.
So with fresh vegetables, they had a food demonstration and made vegetable soup for everyone to try.
Ralberta Colley brought the whole family to the park when she heard the music playing from a distance.
“We thought we’d come see what was going on,” said Colley, 24, of Lima.
In tow were her three children, Tre’y, Kearah and Karleigh, as were her cousin’s children, Deacon and Aleciana, and her mother, Tanny Colley.
“The kids love it,” she said. They tried the vegetable and the all-natural ice cream. “We did it backwards; we had ice cream first,” she said with a chuckle.
The ice cream came from Kevin Link, a Lima native who’s testing out his new Columbus-based ice cream business, called Try Creamcycle. It’s a play on words between tricycle and creamsicle, he said. His entire business will be based on bike. At Faurot Park, he served up vanilla bean, mango blackberry and apple crisp ice cream.
“I’m here to support Earth Day,” Link said. “And I truly believe that … being stewards of the Earth is the only right thing to do moving forward.”